The Tractor And Its Sidekicks
Before the use of machine power, we had animal power.
Work animals were used to pull heavy farm implements that man cannot operate himself. Some of the animals like the bull, the donkey, and horse were used for farm operations. These farm operations include ploughing, harrowing, planting .Some of other farm animals were used for the transportation of farm produce. There were disadvantages associated with the use of animals to do work on farm. Some of these disadvantages include these animals coming under the attack of diseases, the animals getting easily tired, huge cost of taking care of these animals, to mention a few
Then, we had technological advancement that ushered in the tractor.
The tractor is a powerful multi-purpose motor vehicle that is used on most large, commercial farms. The tractor can also be used by a farmer practicing subsistence agriculture. The tractor is used for lifting or pulling along some heavy farm implements that their usage is very important on the farm.
The tractor makes use of the P.T.O.
This does not mean Please Turn Over.
The P.T.O means the P.T.O shaft, which means power-take-off shaft. The tractor makes use of the P.T. O shaft to draw farm implements. The tractor also has a hydraulic control system to lift mounted implements under the control of the tractor operator. It can also be used as a stationery power source for equipment like shellers, threshers, grinders, etc.
The tractor consists of an internal combustion engine that makes use of diesel or petrol without spark plugs. It has four wheels with rubber tyres .In most tractors, there is usually two large-sized wheel at the back and two smaller wheels in front. The tractor can also be used to carry farm inputs like kegs of fertilizers, seed containers, and other chemicals like pesticides from one section of the farm to the other. Harvested crops or other products from the farm can be carried by the tractor to the market, including farm workers.
Farm implements that are usually attached to the tractor include the plough, the harrows, the ridgers, the planters, the harvesters, and the sprayers.
Let us glance at the functions of these farm implements to have a sense of the various roles the tractor plays on the farm :
The plough is a soil cultivation implement or what is known as a primary tillage implement. It is the first implement usually used in land cultivation. The plough is like a wood with metallic discs attached to it. Thus, all a farm operator has to do is to attach the plough to a coupling point at the back of a tractor, thus, linking both the plough and the tractor. Now, the tractor pulls along the plough, the latter shuffling the soil as the metallic couple move down the aisle. This operation helps to loosen the soil and prepares it to receive the soft root of the plants to be cultivated on the land.
The harrow is another heavy farm implement that is attached to the tractor. It is used immediately after ploughing and before ridging. The harrow is an instrument designed to break up soil lumps that may have formed after the ploughing operation. The harrow also levels the soil. The basic parts of the harrow include a handle, a bar, some steel discs, and a coupling point that would be point the harrow is attached to the beast of a machine called the tractor.
The ridger is a secondary soil cultivation implement that can also be attached to the tractor. The ridger is used mainly to make ridges. Important parts of the ridger include a beam, several discs, and a coupling point to which the ridger is attached to the tractor.
This is a machine attached to the tractor. It is designed primarily to plant seeds of crops such as rice, beans, maize, cowpea, cotton, etc. The planter is like a wheelbarrow. There is a seed box or hopper that acts like the compartment in which the seed to be planted are placed. There is the handle that the operator can use to direct the planter. There is the wheel to aid the movement of the planter. The difference between the wheel barrow and the planter is the presence of the hole digger, the seed tube and the roller in the planter. The hole digger on the planter is used to dig the hole on the ground in which the seeds are dropped. The seed tube directs the seeds from the base of the hopper into the dug hole. The roller presses down the soil to cover the hole with the seed. Then, we have the coupling point on the planter. This point serves as the point of attachment of the planter to the tractor.
The harvester, as the name implies, is used in the harvesting operation of various crops when they reach the stage of maturity. They can be attached to the tractor that are used to harvest forage grasses for hay and silage making and used to clear weeds and other low or smaller grasses. The harvester can also be used in threshing grain crops, separate the grains from the cobs or straws, cleans the grains by separating them from the chaff.
These equipment can spray certain chemicals in various farm operations. We have some that can be mounted behind the tractor during spraying. The chemicals that can be sprayed include herbicides to kill weeds, insecticides, disinfectants on livestock houses and structures, light fertilizers, pesticides, water.
With the knowledge of the different functionalities of the tractor, it is important the operator maintain the tractor to maximize the working conditions of the different implements.
Below are ways the tractor can be maintained:
- Keep the tractor clean by removing all trashes or mud from it at the start or at the end of the operations
- Check the water levels and the oil levels daily and top up when necessary
- Check the Tyre pressure daily before operation
- Inspect the tractor every day before starting
- Check electrolyte of the battery everyday and top when necessary
- Do not overload the tractor. Operate at the appropriate speed
- Worn out parts of the tractor like the tyres, fan belts should be replaced or adjusted. Tyre pressures should be gauged regularly
- Ensure that the nuts, screws or shield are checked and tightened at regular intervals
- Employ a competent and experienced tractor operator, if you are not the one driving.
- Parts like the linkages, steering and other movable parts should be greased occasionally
- Wash or clean the carburetor regularly
- Always park the tractor in a shed or garage. Treat it like your motor car.
- Adhere strictly to the tractor’s manual or manufacturer’s instructions
Indeed, the tractor is a very important farm machine in the agribusiness. There should be conscious effort by the operators that the tractor is well maintained so the farm operators can fully gain the impact of the tractor’s functionalities.